High Def, High Returns
Ensuring greater return on investment, from financial and quality of care perspectives, when investing in high-definition OR equipment.
As is the case with most purchases, the inherent benefits of investing in high-definition OR imaging and monitoring equipment are simple, obvious and difficult to argue. However, equally undeniable is that with greater functionality comes the need to make a significant investment.
This works in contrast to a July 2011 Surgical Products survey showing that 42 percent of respondents expect to have less to spend in 2012 than they were allocated in 2011. So once again OR nurses, managers and surgeons are faced with justifying investments in new technology while contending with a shrinking budget.
The good news for those looking to champion the need for HD purchases for the OR is that new features, capabilities and return on investment attributes could make justifying this equipment much easier.
“Beyond the benefits of improved picture detail, HD monitors can accommodate bigger screen sizes,”offers Brian Schlueter of Foreseeson Displays.“They have image manipulation capabilities, such as picture-in-picture or picture-by-picture, a larger selection of input connections, HD fiber-optic compatibility, touch screen technology and even signal outputs so that a procedure can be seen outside of the OR,” he adds.
The ability to share a direct view of surgeries outside the OR is seen as a tremendous benefit for teaching hospitals, facilitating training or helping to promote an organization or individual’s expertise. In this setting, being able to apply high-definition viewing ensures greater overall impact. Other educational benefits offered by HD equipment include recording and playback functions – for both audio and visual information.
“We can also record video from other HD sources like endoscopes,” offers Panasonic’s Jim Roselius. “The video can be passed from our monitor to other monitors and sources, such as an HD video conferencing system for remote diagnosis, teaching or medical conferences. Audio recording with the HD video gives the surgeon the ability to narrate what he's doing, whereas in the past the doctor would need to do editing to add audio or text.”
The natural process of replacing older equipment also plays a role. “End-of-life of old standard-definition products is making the shift to HD inevitable,” offers Jens Ruppert of NDS Surgical Imaging. “New surgeons coming out of college are already used to HD technology and the quality of those images. So it is best for surgical teams to have consistency in image quality.”
In terms of ergonomic advantages, Ruppert points to the growing popularity of specialized monitor suspension arms replacing CRT display supports. The potential for more efficient cable routing with HD equipment can also make the OR a bit safer for the surgical team and the patient.
As stated earlier, understanding the benefits of HD equipment for the OR is pretty straight-forward. On the other hand, calculating a traditional financial spreadsheet showing these products return on investment is difficult to generalize due to the unique characteristics of each location.
However, there are things to consider when looking to prove the necessity of such upgrades. “As quality continues to improve for virtually every image-generating piece of equipment in the OR (cameras, scopes, ultrasound, etc.), it is important to take advantage,” begins Schlueter. “HD displays help make the most of high-quality image investments.
“Additionally, the higher detail and calibrated colors shown by HD equipment means that subtle nuances in colors seen during a procedure (for instance healthy blood vs. unhealthy blood) can be of benefit to all. Also, HD display monitors provide the best selection of connections for all devices, either backward-compatible for older equipment or HD fiber-ready for newer equipment,” he concludes.
Many monitors will also allow for showing multiple HD images simultaneously. And with the ability to archive these images, they can reviewed for training, continuous improvement programs or even if surgeon performance is scrutinized after the surgery. But the potential for keeping surgeons happy doesn’t end there.
“For the surgeon, the use of HD means less eye strain and fatigue,” offers Roselius, “especially when multiple surgeries may be scheduled for the same day.” Less eye fatigue can also improve the ability to identify more minute details, such as small lesions, due an enhanced depth perception.
“For the OR team, it provides true natural imaging and means they can anticipate the surgeon’s needs, and save OR time by better communicating the status of the procedure and next steps. Most importantly, OR staff does not have to disturb the surgical field to view the status of the procedure,” states Townsend.
Additional factors that play into the positive returns of HD equipment can include autoclavable camera heads with lower reprocessing costs, built-in light sources that won’t require additional lighting purchases and the fact that new products will simply have longer lifespans.
Things To Consider
Although there are significant benefits that will accompany purchasing HD equipment, there are also some concepts to consider to ensure your return on investment is truly realized:
• With HD, the quality of video cables matter. Buying lower-quality cables and connectors will impact image quality.
• Communicate will all the input source providers to ensure all the HD products can talk to either other. “Communication and coordination between the vendors is critical to delivering the quality of image that the OR staff is expecting,” says Townsend.
• It you’re not replacing everything at once, make sure the newer HD purchases are compatible with the existing format. “No matter what room a procedure takes place in, the potential for analog meeting HD is high,”adds Ruppert.